National is focused on lifting the quality of early childhood education, National’s Early Childhood Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.
“It’s important our children receive quality education in their early years as this sets them up for primary school onwards. Most early childhood education (ECE) services do a great job, however there is evidence that some are not meeting the quality standards parents expect.
“National is looking to implement a programme of unannounced spot-checks of centres to ensure they are meeting the required standards. Where ECE services are found to be breaking the rules, National proposes that they be put on notice and parents informed. If problems aren’t fixed quickly, services will risk losing their license to operate.
“We want parents to feel confident that when they leave their child in a Government licensed early childhood service, they know they will be well looked after. These proposals are designed to give them that assurance.
“National knows good teachers are at the heart of quality ECE. We're concerned by the growing shortage of qualified early childhood teachers and the issues around pay and workload.
“We’re looking to address this by creating scholarships and voluntary bonding measures to attract more people into early childhood teaching, and we propose additional funding for teachers in the first two years after graduating to assist with getting full registration.
“We have also listened to parents and teachers concerned about the long wait time for early intervention support for children with additional needs and we propose a new approach, which includes a 30 day wait limit for a first-time assessment.
“National supports high quality ECE that allows families to choose the care and education arrangements that suit their circumstances and support their children to thrive.
“We are committed to lifting the quality of ECE across the country and welcome feedback on the proposals in our discussion document.”